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Albuquerque University receives $1.5 million to establish Center for Native American Health Research

Contact: Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant at 214-665-2200 or r6press@epa.gov  

DALLAS – (May 26, 2015) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are funding research to the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center in Albuquerque, N.M., to better understand ways to improve environmental conditions for vulnerable populations. 

The university will use $1.5 million to establish a Center for Native American Health Equity Research. The center will examine how contact with metal mixtures from abandoned mines affects rural Native American populations.

EPA regional administrator Ron Curry said, “This innovative research will provide new approaches to evaluate public health in underserved areas. This knowledge will also help us more effectively protect against exposures to multiple environmental chemical contaminants  and understand the effects of social stressors in relation to these exposures.”

EPA and NIH awarded $25 million to five other universities to establish a Center of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities research. This research will focus on understanding the relationships between biological, chemical, environmental, genetic and epigenetic and social factors. EPA and NIH issued the request for applications on Oct. 31, 2014, with a deadline for submissions on Jan. 13, 2015.

The abstract for the grant details the long history of mining's impact on Native Americans: “Nearly half of the Native American population of the United States lives in 13 western states where there are an estimated 161,000 abandoned hardrock mines, more than 4,000 are abandoned uranium mines. These communities have been inextricably linked to their environments for millennia. Because of their reliance on natural resources to maintain traditional diets, lifestyles, customs and languages, these tribal communities have direct and frequent contact with metal mixtures from unremediated mine sites, creating exposures through multiple pathways, including inhalation, drinking water, and ingestion of food sources either directly or indirectly contaminated by migration of the wastes.”

The Centers of Excellence on Environmental Health Disparities Research program is a collaborative effort supported by the EPA, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The program encourages basic, biological, clinical, epidemiological, behavioral and social scientific investigations of disease conditions in low socioeconomic and health disparate populations.

More information about these grants: https://www.epa.gov/research-grants/currently-funded-grantees-centers-excellence-environmental-health-disparities 

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